|Artwork by Jef Whitehead|
A devastating pedigree breeds devastating progeny. So it follows that the resultant third spawn of the musical breeding of the four entities known as Lord Mantis is more uncompromisingly scathing than you could possibly imagine.
From its opening moments, Death Mask sets the nerves on edge. Pain, anguish and negativity then drown the listener in a pool of their own congealing blood until its merciless end. Death by a thousand cuts, each more painful than the last. Metals of the black, doom and death varieties are forged together into seven tracks of unbending and razor-edged hatred.
"Body Choke" sets the portentous mood with lumbering doom plodding through the darkness, each step pulverizing the desiccated husks of the dead beneath their leaden feet. The wall of malicious noise is cut with buried melodies and abrupt outbursts of antagonism.
|Andrew Markuszewski. Photo © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.|
That blackened death terror flows through the album. Its effect is overwhelming to the point of servitude. Not through excessive administrations of directionless noise however, but with fearsome savagery and unrepentant tone both aural and mental. Sanity is severed by the shards of broken glass used to slit wrists in an attempt to snuff out a life not worth living; its failure leaving a scarred ruin desperate for peace.
Ken Sorceron (Abigail Williams) and Andrew Markuszewski (Avichi) wrestle from their guitars an embarrassment of bile soaked riffs. Along with drummer Bill Bumgardner (Indian) and bassist/vocalist Charlie Fell they channel lugubrious doom and putrescent death into a swirling vortex of corrosive black metal. The psyche is stripped away and sucked into a spiraling wormhole of regret and powerlessness, emerging unrelieved under a sky of unyielding scorn.
|Charlie Fell (top) and Ken Sorceron. Photos © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.|
Fell's sinful screams drip with loathing. They sound like a long dead victim crawling back from the catacombs shrieking vengeance upon their torturer, only to realize they themselves are responsible. Shackled by fate to endless suffering, cries of angered despair issue forth from the pit of that tormented soul with unnerving and vile acidity.
A measure of catharsis, however incomplete, is to be found on closing hymn "Three Crosses". A building doom pounds as layers of sound wrap around vocals just as harrowing and ruinous as ever. An open section strips away the detritus as the track segues into a dark and narrow, Withered/WITTR-like black metal chasm. On the other side lies a militant discord and penetrating cacophony. Its conclusion coils paralyzing tendrils around a spent heart, finishing the cardiac arrest with pulsating hate.
|Bill Bumgardner. Photo © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.|
Death Mask is cruelty and bitterness molded into agonizing sound and forced upon the world without remorse. It's raw yet refined in its intention to bury the listener under mountains of ill will, contempt and disgust. It is a culmination of all that is wrong with humanity and the human spirit. No human soul can remain unaffected in the face of such dedication to unflinching and unsettling passion for inflicting terror.
Lord Mantis have turned abhorrence inside out for this rancorous and hostile release. Death Mask is not only their best work to date, but one of the the best in all of metaldom so far this year.
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